Close to fifty Bellevue College students are beginning to attend team workout sessions in preparation for spring training that their football team, the Bulldogs, will be having in May. However, this team is having its workouts in Bellevue Crossfit instead of on campus, since the football team is in no official way affiliated with Bellevue College. In fact, the full name of the team is the Eastside Junior College Bulldogs. “We used to be called the Bellevue Bulldogs,” says noseguard and defensive tackle Tommy Drorbaugh, “but Bellevue College didn’t like that. Our coach got an email telling him that the name had to be changed.”
The confusion arose last year, when the team was founded. Since the Eastside Junior College Bulldogs is a club and not affiliated with any school, the members involved had to find a way to pay for the expenses of the necessary equipment, facilities, and transportation. Together, they raised $38,000 by sending out cards to potential donors, asking for contributions. When seeing the name Bellevue Bulldogs, the recipients contacted Bellevue College, assuming it was the school’s (nonexistent) football team. In order to deter further confusion, a representative from Bellevue College contacted the Bellevue Bulldogs coach Kevin Bouwman, saying that the name of the team was misleading.
Although they are a club of technically unaffiliated players, “a solid 85% go to Bellevue College,” says Kapu. So far, the team consists of around sixty members, remarkable for a team started by some college students last year. The team has grown considerably, and continues to expand.
With a deep roster, the Eastside Bulldogs are expected to do well this year. “As a club we’re classified as a junior college,” says Kapu, “and play other junior colleges in the area.” The club will not stop at playing against other college’s teams, they are even stepping up over their division. “We played Lewis and Clark College, which is a D-3 school, as well as Pacific University, and then we go down to Utah to to play a junior college team that is actually ranked.” Playing against Division 3 colleges may be tough, but Kapu and his teammates see is as an mutually beneficial opportunity. “It’s practice for them, and a way for us to get our name out there.” The players hope that playing with larger teams will open up some scouting opportunities for the players.
With a new team going as strong as the Eastside Bulldogs, players wonder why their college will not integrate them into its athletic programs. “It would be a huge step for Bellevue College to have a football team.” Drorbaugh says. “Back in high school and at other colleges now, football games are a large source of money and popularity for the school.” Simply put, “A football team is something to rally behind.”
Kui Kapu shares Tommy’s sentiments, stating, “If Bellevue College were to start a football team, the majority of our team would be likely to join.” Right now, he and Drorbaugh are increasing their efforts to raise awareness on campus of the Eastside Bulldogs and their potential. “Most people here don’t know that there is a football team.” Kapu says. “Hopefully people can come out and see what we’re about.”